Wednesday, March 16, 2022

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

 I do love working within parameters, and it's been a tradition of mine to do a bunch of quilts with the Pantone color(s) of the year since 2014. Over eight years, I've managed to make a lot of Pantone quilts.

Even though I am a few months late in sharing my quilts from 2021, I did finish an entire series of quilts based on Illuminating and Ultimate Gray. I really think that the choice of gray and yellow for the colors of the year were meant to be a metaphor of the light at the end of the tunnel. I tried to incorporate that theme throughout all of the quilts that I made. I will post them now in the order that I finished them.

Resolution: Pie Lady Quilts

Resolution: Pie Lady Quilts

First is "Resolution," a quilt that I finished way back in January of 2021 while I was participating in last year's Project Quilting. I didn't cut into any new fabric for this quilt, deciding instead to dump out my solid scrap bin and see what I had first. That act of dumping the bin led to the wonderful discovery of how nicely gray and yellow play with blue and turquoise. I saw the relationship when a piece of turquoise fell near the piles of gray and yellow that I was sorting.

I played with the theme of "light at the end of the tunnel" by using yellow as the light. I used a piece of it in every block as the light. I think it's what makes this quilt work.

This quilt is very small, only 18" x 18." My scrap usage determined the size as I used what I had. It is finished with quilting in monofilament thread. 

Ab Intra: Pie Lady Quilts

Next up is "Ab Intra." This quilt also was made for a Project Quilting challenge last year. Ab intra is a Latin phrase that means "from within." I thought that I could combine the metaphor of "light at the end of the tunnel" with my personal ab intra, which is my faith. My faith illuminates my heart and mind and provides the light by which I see the world. My faith animates my life and gives purpose and meaning to my actions. My faith guides my steps along the path.

I combined the gray and yellow with the colors of the world waking up in spring. It felt appropriate for what I was trying to say, that faith brings growth and life, and also for the time of year in which it was made. I finished this in April of 2021. I used the yellow in the center as an illuminating light within. Even though I used a heavy hand with the gray, I love how much life is in this quilt. It makes me happy. This quilt finished at 37" x 37" and is quilted with straight lines in golden thread.

Pie Lady Quilts

I didn't begin work on the next Pantone quilt until December, but in the meantime I created an entire set of hand dyed fabrics to work with. Since my discovery of how nicely blueish turquoise played with the gray and yellow, I made sure to include some blues in my dyeing experiments.

I also ended up with some hand dyed and hand painted fabric to use (shown in background). I had just poured the gray dye on a piece of fabric when I heard one of my children throw up from down the hall. Suffice it to say, that batch did not get stirred at all and ended up being a pretty unusable blotchy mess. I didn't want to waste it, so I used my Gelli plate to hand print a combed design over all of it. I think it ended up being one of my favorite fabrics in the set and was the basis for another quilt I'll show later. Thank goodness for improvisation!

Pantone Pillow: Pie Lady Quilts

Pantone Pillow: Pie Lady Quilts

Pantone Pillow: Pie Lady Quilts

The next quilt was turned into a pillow. My son's 6th grade teacher was married over the winter break and I only needed to take a quick glance at her online wedding registry to know that gray and yellow would work for her too. I used a very light touch with the yellow and had it act as a focal point. The strips of fabric were purposefully cut freehand and wobbly. I used hand dyed fabrics from my Pantone set. I really love the watercolor, sueded look. I finished it by stitching in the ditch with matching thread. This is an 18" pillow.

I hope this pillow has a long and happy life with the newly married couple.

A Light at the End of the Tunnel: Pie Lady Quilts

A Light at the End of the Tunnel: Pie Lady Quilts

A Light at the End of the Tunnel: Pie Lady Quilts

A Light at the End of the Tunnel: Pie Lady Quilts

A Light at the End of the Tunnel: Pie Lady Quilts

The next quilt is called "A Light at the End of the Tunnel" and is 40" x 40" I used the metaphor that I keep coming back to as an inspiration for the name and so many of the decisions that I made while constructing this quilt. Either gray or yellow is used in every block. The pattern is fixed but the blocks were constructed in a free pieced way. 

It is made with a combination of hand dyed fabrics and shot cotton. I love the depth it gives. It is finished with matchstick quilting in gray thread and finished with a matched binding.

I'll admit here that I had this quilt 75% of the way quilted in monofilament thread when I decided that the yellow was showing too many of the dark threads from the wrong side and that the problem was only made more obvious with every line of quilting I put in. I spent more than a week ripping out quilting only to start matchstick quilting it in gray thread. My back, neck and shoulders definitely paid the price for it, but I liked the quilt enough to work hard for the save. I'm much happier with the result. Imagining that better result was a light at the end of the tunnel for me while I was ripping! I definitely could have done without that real life example, though. 😏

A Bright Spot in a Dark Time: Pie Lady Quilts

A Bright Spot in a Dark Time: Pie Lady Quilts

A Bright Spot in a Dark Time: Pie Lady Quilts

A Bright Spot in a Dark Time: Pie Lady Quilts


The last quilt I'll share is "A Bright Spot in a Dark Time," which is 27" x 27."

I made this quilt from the leftover scraps of the previous quilt. I also used hand dyed and hand printed fabric along with the scraps. I used the fabric I made from printed over top of the blotchy mess as my background. I included a shot of my fingers on the quilt. I noticed that I had inadvertantly left some of my painted fingerprints behind when I had printed the fabric. The temptation to use the "Jill has her fingerprints all over this quilt" joke was too strong, so I pieced it in. 😁

The whole concept for this quilt came from a comment made on my last blog post that had personal significance to me. That is where the title comes from. I also played with the light at the end of the tunnel theme that has stretched across the making of all of these quilts. This might be the eternal optimist in me, but I believe it's even more important to look for the light *during* the dark. Life isn't meant to be endured until it eventually gets good. If you look for it, there's light and good to be found in the darkest of times along the way. "The darker the night, the brighter the stars."

This quilt was quilted in improv waves with monofilament thread and finished with a matched binding.

Pantone 2021: Pie Lady Quilts

Thanks for reading the whole round up of Pantone quilts. I'm trying to make good on my promise of blogging more. 💖 If you are interested in reading EVEN MORE, the IG Quilt Fest, hosted by Amy's Creative Side, is currently happening on Instagram. I've made a commitment to post every day in the month of March. Who knew there was so much to say about quilts?

You can find me and follow along at @pieladyquilts.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Rio Linda

 Happy New Year, everyone! One of my goals for 2022 is to blog more, so here I am with a couple of quilts to share.

"Rio Linda"

54" x 70"

The story behind this quilt is fun. I gave a Zoom lecture on scraps to a guild in upstate New York that had been organized by a blog reader (Hello, Linda!!). In my remarks I mentioned the rule that I use for myself to prevent my scraps from overtaking the world. The rule is that if a scrap basket starts mounding at all, if the drawer won't close or a lid won't snap on, I have to make a scrap quilt. Linda was motivated by this advice and found a creative solution for her solids tote that had a lid that wouldn't shut. She peeled off the uppermost layer and sent it to me! Voila, fixed!


I'm a sucker for a good story and a stack of solids, so to honor her ingenuity, I challenged myself to make a quilt with her stack without any additions or subtractions. Luckily for me there was a good range of values in her random pick. I think this quilt is a wonderful example of how value is just as important as hue. I included a black and white photo so you can see the great variety of lights and darks.

 There were a couple of times that I ran out of Linda's fabric and had to use a little of my stash, but they were either exact matches or so incredibly close that I'm the only one that would ever know the difference. The vibe ended up being kind of Californian so I found a fun way to name the quilt after her.

All the strips were cut freehand without a ruler. I pressed carefully and consistently to help combat any waviness in the piecing. Once I cut into my wonky piecing to get the squares and rectangles, I lost any of the slight bubbling I'd developed by not cutting the strips to match. A flat quilt is a point of pride for me and I'm happy to say that despite some unconventional piecing, this one is as flat as a pancake! 

This was hand quilted with perle 8 and 12 wt. threads in the car during our many trips this summer. It's driven to Idaho and Connecticut and has warmed my lap through plenty of piano lessons. When we were on the NY Thruway, I made sure that I waved in, what I hoped was, the general direction of the guild that inspired this quilt.

"Rio Linda II"

~27" x 27"

This is the quilt that I made with the scraps. I've shared before that I like to cut strips out when I'm working on a quilt and place them in a bucket right next to the sewing machine. I enjoy challenging myself to empty that bucket by making a scrap quilt when I'm finished. I've done several of these checkerboard style quilts and I really enjoy making them. They are also a great way to empty the bucket! 

I finished this quilt with crosshatch quilting in monofilament thread.

Thank you so much, Linda, for the invitation to speak to your guild and for the hours of fun I had playing with the fabric you sent. And, if there are any members from the Ottawa MQG that happen to be reading this blog post, let me assure you that it is NOT a shameless plug for more packages of fabric. If you have a lid that won't snap and no ideas of what to do with it by the time I'm done with you on Monday, you're on your own. 😆😂

If your guild might be interested in a Zoom lecture ("Unlocking the Joy in Scraps") or if you're local and would like to have an in-person trunk show, hit me up at